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Comm Professor Receives New $1M Grant!

A new $1 million grant to bridge the achievement gap in Chemistry was awarded to three Co-Principal Investigators at California State University, San Bernardino, by the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research on March 19, 2020. 


The three-year innovation grant, titled, “Rebalancing the Equity Gap in Chemistry Education with Culturally Sensitive Adaptive Learning,” will use online, personalized learning technologies to decrease the achievement gap in for approximately 8,000 students per year through a coordinated effort which was one of only five grants selected by the State of California.


Professors Larry Mink, Ph.D., Chemistry, Andreas Beyersdorf, Ph.D., Chemistry, and Mihaela Popescu, Ph.D., Communication Studies representing Academic Technologies and Innovation, alongside Co-Principal Investigators from all three segments of California postsecondary education at the University of California, Davis, the California State University Chancellor’s Office, and Mendocino College, secured the grant, now made more relevant by the need to rethink course delivery due to COVID-19 disruptions and closures.


With over 100,000 students taking chemistry courses in California annually, the study is designed to directly improve outcomes for underrepresented student populations pursuing STEM education by using culturally-responsive, technology-enabled learning to address factors known to disproportionately impact historically marginalized groups in STEM.


Adaptive learning is a technology-driven teaching approach that is responsive to individual student’s needs, behaviors and performance. Culturally Sensitive Adaptive Learning uses culturally-responsive content to bolster STEM identity.


Academic Technologies and Innovation piloted adaptive learning technology with the Chemistry Department in 2018. [Video:]


The outcomes of this study will include development, testing and distribution of a free adaptive learning platform as part of the LibreText Open Educational Resources program, an online repository of free textbooks and course content that has saved students $30 million on textbook costs, broadening access to education nationally. [Info:]


Said Kate Gordon, Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, “The Selection Committee noted that your project proposes an innovative approach to increasing student success by creating an open-education-resource adaptive learning platform and by developing editable, culturally responsive learning and homework modules for Chemistry.”


Additional benefits from the grant to California State University, San Bernardino, will include adaptive learning implementation into campus general chemistry courses in order to specifically address the equity gaps, and dissemination of research in publications and conferences.


Making this new effort possible were the partnerships forged across universities and disciplines, credited and listed for their contributions:

  • University of California System
  • Delmar Larsen (UCD) Prof. of Chemistry and Executive Director of the LibreTexts
  • Ozcan Gulacar (UCDs) Prof. of Teaching in Chemistry
  • Anthony Albano (UCD) Prof. of Education Psychology in School of Education
  • Marco Molinaro (UCD) Director, Center for Excellence in Education
  • California State University System
  • Larry Mink (CSUSB) Prof. of Chemistry
  • Andreas Beyersdorf (CSUSB) Assistant Prof. of Chemistry
  • Mihaela Popescu (CSUSB) Prof. of Communication Studies & Faculty Associate, Academic Technologies & Innovation
  • Frank Gomez (CSULA and CSU Chancellor's Office) Prof. of Chemistry and Executive Director STEM-NET
  • Jonathan Brooks (CSUSB)Instructional Designer, Academic Technologies & Innovation 
  • Cathleen Lucas, (CSUSB) Senior Grant Development Officer, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
  • California Community College System
  • Michelle Pilati (ASCCC) Faculty Coordinator, Open Educational Resources Initiative at Academic Senate for California Community Colleges
  • Greg Allen (MC) Assistant Prof. of Chemistry


ABOUT ACADEMIC TECHNOLOGIES AND INNOVATION: Lovingly referred to as “tech next to the mountain,” Academic Technologies and Innovation is a research and development space at  California State University, San Bernardino, where highly qualified and experienced specialists design inclusive, pedagogically sound, and technology-enhanced environments that empower faculty to achieve their instructional goals and students to achieve their highest levels of success.


ABOUT CSUSB:A center of intellectual and cultural activity in Inland Southern California, California State University, San Bernardino reflects the region and has the most diverse student population of any university in the Inland Empire. The university offers over 70 traditional baccalaureate and master's degree programs, education credential and certificate programs, and a doctoral program.